(searched for: doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-050720-122916)
Theoretical and Applied Genetics pp 1-18; doi:10.1007/s00122-021-03856-5
Polygenic genome-wide association mapping identified two regions of the cowpea genome associated with different components of resistance to its major post-harvest pest, the seed beetle Callosobruchus maculatus. Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) is an important grain and fodder crop in arid and semi-arid regions of Africa, Asia, and South America, where the cowpea seed beetle, Callosobruchus maculatus, is a serious post-harvest pest. Development of cultivars resistant to C. maculatus population growth in storage could increase grain yield and quality and reduce reliance on insecticides. Here, we use a MAGIC (multi-parent, advanced-generation intercross) population of cowpea consisting of 305 recombinant inbred lines (RILs) to identify genetic variants associated with resistance to seed beetles. Because inferences regarding the genetic basis of resistance may depend on the source of the pest or the assay protocol, we used two divergent geographic populations of C. maculatus and two complementary assays to measure several aspects of resistance. Using polygenic genome-wide association mapping models, we found that the cowpea RILs harbor substantial additive-genetic variation for most resistance measures. Variation in several components of resistance, including larval development time and survival, was largely explained by one or several linked loci on chromosome 5. A second region on chromosome 8 explained increased seed resistance via the induction of early-exiting larvae. Neither of these regions contained genes previously associated with resistance to insects that infest grain legumes. We found some evidence of gene–gene interactions affecting resistance, but epistasis did not contribute substantially to resistance variation in this mapping population. The combination of mostly high heritabilities and a relatively consistent and simple genetic architecture increases the feasibility of breeding for enhanced resistance to C. maculatus.
Transgenic Research pp 1-27; doi:10.1007/s11248-021-00253-y
Until recently, our ability to generate allelic diversity in plants was limited to introduction of variants from domesticated and wild species by breeding via uncontrolled recombination or the use of chemical and physical mutagens—processes that are lengthy and costly or lack specificity, respectively. Gene editing provides a faster and more precise way to create new variation, although its application in plants has been dominated by the creation of short insertion and deletion mutations leading to loss of gene function, mostly due to the dependence of editing outcomes on DNA repair pathway choices intrinsic to higher eukaryotes. Other types of edits such as point mutations and precise and pre-designed targeted sequence insertions have rarely been implemented, despite providing means to modulate the expression of target genes or to engineer the function and stability of their protein products. Several advancements have been developed in recent years to facilitate custom editing by regulation of repair pathway choices or by taking advantage of alternative types of DNA repair. We have seen the advent of novel gene editing tools that are independent of DNA double-strand break repair, and methods completely independent of host DNA repair processes are being increasingly explored. With the aim to provide a comprehensive review of the state-of-the-art methodology for allele replacement in plants, I discuss the adoption of these improvements for plant genome engineering.
Journal of Experimental Botany; doi:10.1093/jxb/erab222
Heterosis occurs when the F1s outperform their parental lines for a trait. Reciprocal hybrids are obtained by changing the cross direction of parental genotypes. Both biological phenomena could affect the external and internal attributes of fleshy fruits. This work aimed to detect reciprocal effects and heterosis in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) fruit quality traits and metabolite content. Twelve agronomic traits and 28 metabolites identified and estimated by 1H-NMR were evaluated in five cultivars grown in two environments. Given that the genotype component was more important than the phenotype, the traits were evaluated following a full diallel mating design among those cultivars, in a greenhouse. Hybrids showed a higher phenotypic diversity than parental lines. Interestingly, the metabolites, mainly amino acids, displayed more reciprocal effects and heterosis. Agronomic traits were more influenced by general combining ability (GCA) and metabolites by specific combining ability (SCA). Furthermore, the genetic distance between parental lines was not causally related to the occurrence of reciprocal effects or heterosis. Hybrids with heterosis and a high content of metabolites linked to tomato flavour and nutritious components were obtained. Our results highlight the impact of selecting a cultivar as male or female in a cross to enhance the variability of fruit attributes through hybrids as well as the possibility to exploit heterosis for fruit composition.
Nature Plants, Volume 7, pp 419-427; doi:10.1038/s41477-021-00898-x
Cis-regulatory mutations underlie important crop domestication and improvement traits1,2. However, limited allelic diversity has hindered functional dissection of the large number of cis-regulatory elements and their potential interactions, thereby precluding a deeper understanding of how cis-regulatory variation impacts traits quantitatively. Here, we engineered over 60 promoter alleles in two tomato fruit size genes3,4 to characterize cis-regulatory sequences and study their functional relationships. We found that targeted mutations in conserved promoter sequences of SlCLV3, a repressor of stem cell proliferation5,6, have a weak impact on fruit locule number. Pairwise combinations of these mutations mildly enhance this phenotype, revealing additive and synergistic relationships between conserved regions and further suggesting even higher-order cis-regulatory interactions within the SlCLV3 promoter. In contrast, SlWUS, a positive regulator of stem cell proliferation repressed by SlCLV3 (refs. 5,6), is more tolerant to promoter perturbations. Our results show that complex interplay among cis-regulatory variants can shape quantitative variation, and suggest that empirical dissections of this hidden complexity can guide promoter engineering to predictably modify crop traits. Engineering over 60 promoter alleles in two tomato fruit size genes showed the complex interactions among cis-regulatory variants in shaping quantitative trait variation. Dissection of this complexity can guide predictable engineering of crop traits.
Molecular Breeding, Volume 41, pp 1-31; doi:10.1007/s11032-021-01208-1
More than 1.1 billion tonnes of maize grain were harvested across 197 million hectares in 2019 (FAOSTAT 2020). The vast global productivity of maize is largely driven by denser planting practices, higher yield potential per area of land, and increased yield potential per plant. Shoot architecture, the three-dimensional structural arrangement of the above-ground plant body, is critical to maize grain yield and biomass. Structure of the shoot is integral to all aspects of modern agronomic practices. Here, the developmental genetics of the maize vegetative shoot is reviewed. Plant architecture is ultimately determined by meristem activity, developmental patterning, and growth. The following topics are discussed: shoot apical meristem, leaf architecture, axillary meristem and shoot branching, and intercalary meristem and stem activity. Where possible, classical and current studies in maize developmental genetics, as well as recent advances leveraged by “-omics” analyses, are highlighted within these sections.